Japanese phones, WiFi & walkie-talkies: the definitive guide

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Sandy, Dec 3, 2013.

  1.  
    Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Season Pass Gold

    There have bee a number questions about mobile phones, WiFi & walkie-talkies in various threads, so I thought I'd start a definitive guide and sticky it!

    First a few details.

    Mobile Phones.
    Japan uses 3G and LTE(4G). 3G is mostly restricted to 2100Mhz, which pretty much all 3G phones support. (there are also a few other frequencies that are not used in Australia, such as 900MHz, 1500MHz & 1700Mhz)
    GSM does not work in Japan

    If you intend to use your Aussie phone or smartphone, you need to either have it unlocked, or you will roam instead. Be aware that if you roam with data, you will probably get an huge bill. Put it in "aeroplane mode" if you intend to roam.

    Walkie Talkies.
    Aussie walkie-talkies use different frequencies to Japan, and if you use them and get caught, you will incur a large fine.

    WiFi.
    Free WiFi hotspots are not common, except around JR stations, and places like Starbucks & McDonalds. Hotel lobby free WiFi is however, common. You can get paid WiFi





    SIMs for you Aussie phone
    Japan has two types of Prepaid SIMs you can buy:
    1. Data only (available from DoCoMo, via B-mobile) These are SIM only.
    2. Voice only (available from Softbank). These are available as both SIM or SIM & phone
    You can also rent phones, which will give you more options, but cost you more if you're in Japan longer than just a week or two.


    Paid WiFi
    These are available as either WiMax or LTE WiFi devices.
    1. WiMax uses a wideband WiFi network, but is only available in big cities and along SOME expressways. For snow resorts, this is not a good option.
    2. LTE. Previously, E-Mobile had both 3G & LTE devices, but now only LTE is available, so for the moment, the coverage area is not as good as it used to be.
    Generally, you can connect 5-20 devices.

    In either case, it's a good idea to check CAREFULLY the coverage areas. In both cases, tourists can only rent these devices. These are useful if you only want to use data in a central location for a number of people in your group.



    more to come
     
    :thumbs: Obistardust likes this.
  2.  
    M_G

    M_G Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    :thumbs:

    This could also go in wikiski too.
     
  3.  
    Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Season Pass Gold

    SIMs for your Aussie phone.

    Voice prepaid with Softbank.
    The only consistent place I can find SIM or SIM+phone is at Softbank Roppongi, in Tokyo.
    A basic phone + SIM + 3000 yen prepaid will cost around 6300 yen. The same deal is available at Donquixote (DonKi) at Aikihabara (and others) for 3980yen, but it seems you need two IDs, one of which must be Japanese (i.e. Japanese resident card, Japanese driver's license, and maybe Japanese CC)
    The phone number is valid for one year after your previous use, you can use it in consecutive years.
    If you buy this phone/SIM, ask the sales assistant to help you change the help number (1414) to English language. You can buy extra prepaid cards at 7-Eleven (and some other convenience stores)

    Data only, SIM only from DoCoMo, via B-mobile
    This is a little trickier, as you have to (supposedly) buy these on line, and have them delivered. However, I've seen them being sold at some places at Akihabara. I will try to find other places they are available.

    1.
    Visitor SIM. there are two types:
    a. The "Visitor SIM 14-day prepaid " has unlimited data capped at 300 kbps, 300 kbps version will not allow sustained streaming, so it won't work with VoIP, Skype, youtube etc.
    b. "Visitor SIM1 GB prepaid" allows full speed (best effort) up to 1 GB.

    Both cost ¥3,980 and are valid for 14-days, with a choice between regular and micro sizes.
    These SIMs are delivered preactivated with English support (including the webpage).


    2.
    Non-visitor data-only SIMs
    Tourists can also the use a standard, non-visitor SIM while temporarily in Japan. These are less expensive and the prepaid charges are good for 30 days. They must be activated by phone, and have only Japanese support.
    I will post a list of these later.






    more to follow
     
  4.  
    Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Season Pass Gold

    Yep, once I get all the good info up, I'll post in wiki. Feedback and more info from other people about rental phones, WiFi, etc will add to it before it goes into Wiki.
     
  5.  
    spaceman347

    spaceman347 Active Member

    Pupuru prepaid LTE wifi works well and comes with unlimited data. I used one in Furano last year and it worked well including constant Netflix streaming.
    It's worth noting that the rental periods for these are "days per month" so 21 consecutive days will not qualify for the discounted rate if it's 10 days in Jan and 11 days in Feb.
     
  6.  
    lncrdj79

    lncrdj79 Active Member

    I always rent a Pocket Wifi device from Global Advanced Communication when in Japan. The device is sent to the first hotel of my trip (or you can collect from the airport) and includes a prepaid envelope to pop into the mail when you are done/leaving.

    The device enables on the go data including maps, internet search and VOiP (viber, skype etc). It is my preference to a local SIM as it can handle multiple simultaneous connections - so everyone can be connected at once.
     
  7.  
    M_G

    M_G Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Make sure to check the coverage map before renting. These devices don't necessarily cover all of Japan. In some places it can be decidedly patchy.
     
  8.  
    BobGnarly

    BobGnarly Dedicated Member

    my pupuru was very patchy as i toured hokkaido. No service for hours on end as I drove around.
     
  9.  
    spaceman347

    spaceman347 Active Member

    Is that no service within the displayed coverage zones? The coverage maps on the site pretty clearly show that it's limited to the major towns and cities. Although having said that it appears as though there has been some expansion this year as the coverage looks more complete that last season.
     
  10.  
    Avon_Barksdale

    Avon_Barksdale Active Member

    Does anyone know how the pupuru would go at Nozawa?

    The coverage map shows 3G coverage only so I'm wondering if it would drop back to 3G if LTE was unavailable?
     
  11.  
    Nozawaman

    Nozawaman Addicted Member Season Pass Gold

    EVERY property here has fibre optic internet ............ I would be more interested in where are the best stashes , I know what I will be doing while everyone else is worrying about texting/skyping/vibing/emailing/facetiming/zeeing .
     
    :thumbs: kiltedrider and winter like this.
  12.  
    Avon_Barksdale

    Avon_Barksdale Active Member

    I'm there for a month and not staying at a lodge where internet would be provided. The pupuru would solve the internet at the apartment during the evening problem and I could also take it out onto the hill in case I need to imessage/viber someone.
     
  13.  
    Nozawaman

    Nozawaman Addicted Member Season Pass Gold

    Where are you staying ?
     
  14.  
    Avon_Barksdale

    Avon_Barksdale Active Member

    With Andy and Yuka who I think you know. Not sure exactly where the place is. They organised it.
     
  15.  
    Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Season Pass Gold

    As far as I'm aware, the Pupuru pocket WiFi LTE GL02P(supplied by E-Mobile/E-Access) only provides LTE at 1800MHz, so it will not fall back on 3G.
     
  16.  
    Nozawaman

    Nozawaman Addicted Member Season Pass Gold

    Just be careful when you ask Andy to show you where the stashes are , he might put you on top of a cliff band hahahaha .
    Has he told you that story ?
     
  17.  
    Avon_Barksdale

    Avon_Barksdale Active Member

    Haha yeah he has. Mistakes happen which is one reason I would like my phone to work on the mountain!
     
  18.  
    Avon_Barksdale

    Avon_Barksdale Active Member

    Thanks Sandy. Might need to look at another option.
     
  19.  
    jorgo

    jorgo Active Member

    What towns/mountains have you used this in?

    Ive been trying to research these lately as we need one for myoko this season but we are finding it hard to find first hand information from people who have actually had one.
    Has anyone here used one in Myoko and if so which provider, model, company etc was it with?
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013
  20.  
    lncrdj79

    lncrdj79 Active Member

    Sorry - not been to Myoko. Have used in Nozawa and Shiga Kogen no probs.
     
  21.  
    jorgo

    jorgo Active Member

    Trying to make a choice and think we have it down to DoCoMo but are confused about the different networks etc.

    This site shows the coverage which looks ok to me in myoko but they have listed Xi and Xi with something Japanese in brackets. Does anyone know the difference and how these relate to the pocket wifis?

    http://servicearea.nttdocomo.co.jp/...LTE&scale=250000&lat=37.899593&lot=139.026342

    Myoko is where there 39 comes off the 18 and joins to the 399.

    For the Xi most of the area is in pink which seems ok.
    For Xi (???) its all purple which also seems ok.

    Im a bit confused trying to work out which company provides a pocket wifi to work on these networks.
     
  22.  
    M_G

    M_G Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Second one is faster Jorgo. Xiエリア(800MHz)

    The area of coverage is expanding but not until May 2014. Connection in Akakura can be a bit dodgy at any time but Docomo is the best of an average bunch. Having been bitten before I never trust these maps - might only be coverage on a sunny day with a slight breeze from the south-west and a low pollen count.

    If it works you owe me chu-hai ;)
     
  23.  
    jorgo

    jorgo Active Member

    Ok thanks MG, If I look for any rental advertising DoCoMo does it mean they will work with these Xi networks?
     
  24.  
    M_G

    M_G Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Yes, should do, as well as it can up here.

    Interesting Google ad this morning from Hokkaido.
    [​IMG]
     
  25.  
    Peter from dataGO

    Peter from dataGO Just Registered

    Hey guys, just thought I would add a few points to the mix, as suggested from another thread that was asking specifically about Niseko.
    I have an international SIM card business (I'm based from the Lonely Planet head office in Melbourne), and have data only SIMs for Japan. They are NTT DoCoMo SIMs, which is one of the largest networks in Japan, with solid coverage. There is a whole bunch of info and FAQs on my website (http://www.datago.co/japan-sim.html), happy to answer any other questions also (will add them to my existing FAQs).
    Couple of points covered, but worth mentioning are;
    - my SIMs are standard speed, suitable for skype
    - ship them free, anywhere in the world (so you have before you leave)
    - pre-activated, pre-loaded with 1GB for 30 days.. ready to go on landing
    - Mini, and Micro size, not Nano just yet (coming soon hopefully), but the easiest work around for nano users is to get a hotspot (or I can rent one to you), which the SIMs are compatible with as long as they have the right 3G network bands

    as I said, any other questions, just let me know, would be happy to help.
     
  26.  
    Junior

    Junior Active Member

    I purchased the B Mobile data only SIM from Yodobashi in Osaka two weeks ago. The staff will not activate it for you, so I convinced a guy in my hostel to activate it for me. It has been invaluable, particularly for navigating via Google Maps!
     
  27.  
    Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Season Pass Gold

    That's a good get, because not many large stores sell B-mobile data SIMs anymore. It's best to activate it asap, as I've seen somebody have a problem and didn't have much recourse because she bought it in a small shop.
     
  28.  
    Junior

    Junior Active Member

    Yes...it wasn't easy, they had tucked them away out the back somewhere, and warned me that they won't activate it, and there's no refunds under any circumstances!

    I can recharge it online and monitor my usage, it's a good option for the 3 or 4 months I'll be in Japan!
     
  29.  
    ssar

    ssar Dedicated Member

    No Doubt this topic will be expanded upon in time.
    (A little more info in this thread: http://forums.ski.com.au/xf/threads/walkie-talkies-in-japan.48487/#post-1413228 )
    (Blog post about Japan Radio Law: http://hakuba.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/hakuba-japan-2-way-radios/ )

    We used some average-type walkie talkies in Fall Creek several years ago, which one of us borrowed from work, and the range was quite poor, even testing it in direct line of sight up/down the mountain.

    On another tangent though, what about motorcycle helmet style bluetooth intercom communications, like these I found with a quick search:?

    http://www.adventurecamshq.com.au/buy/sena-smh10-dual-pack-motorcycle-bluetooth-intercom/SMH10D-10

    A friend has sewn in something similar to thier snowriding helmets and loves using them in Australian ski resorts, claimed several hundred metres range which is impressive.

    There appears to be a range of similar such items available incl. ebay etc. - I wonder if such bluetooth comms relate to the Japan Radio Laws or not?

    I do like the idea of good-range bluetooth paired intercom headsets!
     
  30.  
    hatto

    hatto Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    150 meters is about it. Mainly designed for rider and pillion passanger. 5 watt uhf is what we use when group riding in the bush. Lead rider has one, sweep rider has one so that if a problem then the sweep can stop the lead rider from getting to far away. Work in fairly dense bush and terrain but only about 5 kms. In hilly terrain you need a smaller3db gain arial because the catch is more round not elliptical
    hatto
     
  31.  
    Ozy

    Ozy Active Member

    Looked at your site details, am I correct the sim doesn't work with IOS 7?

    thx
     
  32.  
    Junior

    Junior Active Member

    Hey there Sandy,

    For the voice only phone & sim packages. Do you think Mega Donki in Joetsu would be carrying that deal you've mentioned? What's the next cheapest option for 2 months? Rentafone Japan?

    Thanks
     
  33.  
    Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Season Pass Gold

    Should have it if you have a resident's card.
     
    :thumbs: Junior likes this.
  34.  
    Avon_Barksdale

    Avon_Barksdale Active Member

    We have good LTE reception in the Nozawa village and on the mountain on an iPhone so we have ordered a pocket Wifi from Pupuru. Will report back on the quality once we get it.
     
  35.  
    Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Season Pass Gold

    Here is the place you can buy a pair of talkie talkies for about 9000 yen at Akihabara (Electric Town):

    35.699399,139.770624

    Put into google and hit maps.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2013
  36.  
    Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Season Pass Gold

    Ok, I've found another place that sells a pair of walkie talkies for 5980 yen.
    Says 1-2km range, 10mW.

    More details to follow
     
  37.  
    Ozy

    Ozy Active Member

    Eight days no answer....bing bong..........
     
  38.  
    Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Season Pass Gold

    In Akihabara, a place called "Wakamatsu":

    35.702631,139.771927

    Put into google and hit maps.

    Like this:
    http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/wich/item/er303/

    [​IMG]
     
  39.  
    Avon_Barksdale

    Avon_Barksdale Active Member

    I'm in Nozawa and received the Pupuru LTE pocket Wifi on the 1st. So far we haven't had any LTE reception but it falls back to 3G when it doesn't have LTE. The speed is good on 3G. I'm streaming the ashes on it now with no buffering.

    Reception in the village is fine. On the mountain however you lose service about halfway up. Its there at nagasaka mid-station but gone by the top of the gondola. Nothing further up on Yamabiko either.
     
  40.  
    Avon_Barksdale

    Avon_Barksdale Active Member

    And it appears the Pupuru will not allow you to download torrents which is pretty annoying.
     
  41.  
    M_G

    M_G Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    They are hot on torrent down/uploading in Japan now after new laws passed last year.
     
  42.  
    Donza

    Donza Pool Room

    @Sandy - wondering if its possible to get a mobile phone front glass repaired more cheaply in japan than in Australia
    Ive cracked the glass on my samsung s3
    over here they are quoting 200 bucks plus
     
  43.  
    azzski

    azzski Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    @Donza I've seen it under Mid-City Centre (basement food court level, on the way to QVB) for $100 or $150, can't recall which. I'll try and remember to take a look tomorrow.
     
  44.  
    Donza

    Donza Pool Room

    cheers azz
     
  45.  
    Yardsale

    Yardsale Part of the Furniture Moderator

    Yep, I've found the solution to everything guys!

    Behold the 1990's brick.

    With stuff all functionality and a 1 month of battery life you can charge at at the start of your trip, and you're good to go.
    In addition, you also have a valid reason to wear ray bans and a tweed jacket, ski on tyrolia skis and play the soundtrack from Cocktail full blast in your trans-am.

    [​IMG]

    http://gizmodo.com/you-can-have-a-z...source=gizmodo_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow
     
    :thumbs: kathfern and JoeKing like this.
  46.  
    M_G

    M_G Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    I'd rather have one of those than my current stupidphone. Or maybe it's the user that's stupid. :confused:
     
  47.  
    JoeKing

    JoeKing Part of the Furniture Season Pass Gold

    No. These render the user stupid eventually unless they were before they bought it.
    ;)
     
  48.  
    Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Season Pass Gold

    I had a look awhile back, and while the glass seems quite cheap, i think the actual replacemnt isn't.
     
  49.  
    skichanger

    skichanger Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Well someone was eyeing off my flip phone as being appropriate for you.
     
  50.  
    DVS

    DVS Active Member

    Firstly, my apologies if this is repeating information from earlier in this thread.

    This trip, as the kids are old enough to be doing their own thing, we decided to give mobile WiFi devices a go. We ordered two from econnect.com, and they were waiting for us at the Tokyo Dome Hotel when we checked in. Both allow unlimited data and support VoIP and video streaming. We have used them very effectively with Skype and FaceTime.

    We have had no connection issues in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima or Niseko.

    Bluetooth or wired into a helmets, they have proven to be a very useful.
     
    :thumbs: ssar likes this.